I have had an excellent and very appreciated response to my entry entitled An Alliance of Christians and Progressives?
Here is one by email:
I clearly identify w/ the progressive or liberal end of the bell curve, and though raised Roman Catholic, do not identify myself as such or even as Christian. I would relish the opportunity for those in my so-called “camp” to reach out and embrace the “Christian conservatives,” but I haven’t heard of a plausible or clear strategy for “us” to reach out or communicate to “them.” I suspect it’s a “respect” issue that’s eroded, almost irretrievably. I imagine what “we” are viewed as elitist, over-educated pinko-commie fags, and “they” as ignorant gun-toting trailer trash. That’s a large divide to overcome, especially when Christian radio, and the message of the likes of Falwell and Robertson is so pervasive and well-received. And I’m not holding my breath for the time when “they” are going to reach out or communicate with “us.”
Another by email:
If you are waiting for the electorate to get up in arms about monitoring US citizens who are communicating with known Islamo-facist elements, either inside or outside our borders, then you are going to be waiting for a long time. The more the democrats wail about this, the more votes they will lose. If spying is occurring, on the other hand, on domestic targets who are nothing more than political threats to the current administration (a la Watergate) then John Dean will be proven correct, and there will be ample conservatives joining the call for impeachment based upon such an abuse of power. Further, if you are waiting for Christians/Social Conservatives to become "enlightened" as to the relative unimportance of an issue like abortion, you will be waiting for a very, very, long time. The sanctity of human life is inseperable from any reasonable interpretation of Christian theology, or the more secular documents upon [which] this nation was founded, for that matter. Regarding the supposed "loss of diversity" among media outlets, I find that completely laughable. We have witnessed an explosion in the availablity of information since Al Gore invented the Internet. This is much to the chagrin of the American Pravda (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN) who no longer have the luxury of putting out their editorials-disguised-as-news without being called on it.
Another leaves a comment on the Orwell's Grave:
Referring to my statement that: it may be hard to imagine, but I foresee an alliance, of sorts, between progressives and fundamentalist Christians on a number of important, politically revolutionizing fronts.
Kvatch says: This is not hard to imagine at all. The American populist movement had its roots in the predomonantly protestant, but still quite religious midwest, where faith was married with a notion of duty to improve the plight of workers and farmers.
And J.D. Ryan takes me to task for "not knowing how much ignorance I am up against here." He cannot see how all these uneducated "fundies" could possibly vote any other way than how they are programmed religiously and politically, and that when people have beliefs, albiet deeply held irrational ones, when confronted with things that challenge thier world view, they react accordingly.
I had hoped to simulate some discussion and I have.
I agree with my first emailer that there is alot of water under the bridge between liberals/progressives and fundamentalist evangelical Christians, and I suspect that there is a loss of respect, as he points out, in so many ways we can't begin to count. But I believe there are some of these Christians who are accessible and open to some of the issues we are talking about. I think some of them resonate with them on a personal and family level that may or may not be conscious.
Thanks to the email about the history of alliances between Christians and progressives. The populist movements in the 19th and 20th century are stories of just such alliances. Many member of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Democrats were Christian progressives. It is a history worth looking at. I do maintain, however, that modern-day, political Christian fundamentalists, in their current numbers, political organization, and recruitment -- by a dedicated cadre of men and women -- far surpasses anything we have seen in American political history.
To my other emailer (and to J.D. Ryan) I am not contending that huge numbers of fundamentalists Christians will become "enlightened," and will, therefore, see the error of their ways. What I am hoping for is that some of the more basic economic, enviromental and family survival issues will eclipse the heat of anti-abortion and anti-homosexual religious fervor.
I believe that the more some of these people are adversely affected by job loss, pension loss, health care crises, relative wage decreases, and the like, that they will begin to act -- and, more importantly vote -- to support their self-interests and the self-interests of their families. They can still yell and scream about abortion and gays, but their vote is secret, and I believe, with the right message, and in the face of compelling realities, they can become a part, even a silent part, of the alliance I am talking about. I believe there will be other fundamentalists Christians who will be more vocal about it. There are already some evangelical fundamentalists who are talking about the ruination of our natural world, the world that we were given to nurture and sheperd.
I contend that it is simply human nature for huge, ill-defined groups like "fundamentalist Christians" to have within them a range of people, some of them more moderate. And by the way, there are plenty of evangelical Christians who have college educations, and not at just "Christian" schools. We do ourselves, and them, a disservice if we simply dismiss them all as ignorant and uneducated.
Of course, I do not expect the fatally deluded to do anything but what is predictable -- namely, to continue to act in passionate support of people like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly, Gary Bauer, James Dobson, Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, and others like them. I do not expect Pat Robertson to wake up one day and start demanding that we must organize unions at Wal-Mart. I do not expect Phylllis Schlafly to start advocating for better enforcement of domestic violence laws. And I do not expect Jerry Falwell to wake up one morning and ask his followers to give to their local food bank, instead of to him. And I do not expect that millions of their followers will do the same.
But there will be some who will hear, who will listen, who will see what is happening to them. The more that progressives, liberals, social democrats, human and civil rights activists, trade unionists, and others can help to clarify and communicate some of the issues I listed, the better.
If what one emailer said is true, about the rise of the internet serving as the answer to the lack of media diversity, then we will need the internet to help communicate these ideas. But a word to the wise. Just because there are tens of thousands of progressive political blogs, don't get carried away believing they carry the same weight as what you call the "American Pravda." The vast majority of Americans, right and left, still read, listen to, and watch that "American Pravda" and never see the stories by watchdog groups and hot button bloggers who point out the lies and misinformation.
We cannot forget the numbers. We do so at our peril.
The very reason we have such healthy activity on the internet is because of the loss of diversity in the rest of American media. But that activity simply does not replace a healthy print and broadcast press, regardless of how much time you and I may spend on the internet.
Finally, in response to the assertion that If spying is occurring, on the other hand, on domestic targets who are nothing more than political threats to the current administration (a la Watergate) then John Dean will be proven correct, and there will be ample conservatives joining the call for impeachment based upon such an abuse of power, I will not hold my breath waiting for Republican conservatives to rally to impeach Bush. There are too many reasons mitigating against it.
There really is too much wiggle room in the FISA law and its interpretation.
The complexities of this issue are far greater than a burglary and coverup.
Nixon did what he did to win an election.
Bush did what he did to protect the country.
And finally, the administration would take this issue to the Supreme Court and Bush has stacked the deck with Roberts and Alito.
In lieu of direct evidence that Bush committed an clear crime, impeachment is not going to happen.
We need to spend our energies on changing the Congress in 2006, and the White House in 2008. Lending so much of our passion and energy to impeaching Bush isn't going to get us anything, except President Cheney.